New York Jets – Tannenbaum Must Go!

Mike Donnelly on why the New York Jets must fire GM Mike Tannenbaum

With the Jets once again getting all the headlines for more bad reasons today, it looks like the 2012 season is ready to be flushed down the toilet like the turd that it is. With players speaking up publicly about their frustration with the team’s biggest offseason publicity stunt–uhh, I mean quarterback transaction,Tim Tebow, it sure seems like last season’s fractured locker room has officially returned. Rather than harp again on Tebow and Sanchez or Sanchez and Tebow, let’s take a look at how we really got here. Let’s take a look at the man who led us on this path. Let’s take a look at Mike Tannenbaum.

I tried to warn Mike back in August that this roster he put together simply wasn’t good enough. I used to really like Mr. T and was a staunch supporter, so it upset me the way things were starting to look. I questioned his series of head-scratching moves over the course of the past year plus. I offered him solutions and begged for some sort of explanation as to what the hell was happening to our beloved New York Jets, but unfortunately we never got any answers of any kind. It’s become painfully clear that the reason the Jets as an organization were never able to answer any of our questions and concerns about what was going on was because they didn’t actually have any answers. They knew just as little about this team as we did. There was no plan. There was rhyme or reason to any of these moves. The team was just slapped together with one quick-fix after another, and now those rubber bands and paper clips holding the franchise together are starting to break apart. So how did this happen?

1- Awful Player Evaluation – It doesn’t take a football expert to know that the foundation of a team is built through the NFL draft. You get to add several young and inexpensive players to your roster each year. You re-tool for the next few years, fill holes, and that’s supposed to be your rock. You develop these players, hope to hit on way more than you miss on, and then you complement this foundation with free agent signings, trades, and waiver pickups. It takes 3-4 years to fully evaluate draft classes, but players you draft are supposed to be the heart of your team. Well let’s take a look at Mr. T’s drafts from the 2008-2010 seasons, which should be a major part of our team.

  • 2008Vernon Gholston, the #6 overall pick, is out of the league. Dustin Keller was traded up for at #30, which was a complete reach and a poor trade, despite Keller turning into a solid if unspectacular tight end. Dwight Lowery was a solid player before being given away for a blocking sled to the Jaguars in 2011. Marcus Henry and Erik Ainge are out of football.
  • 2009– In perhaps the biggest move of Tannenbaum’s career, he pulled off a blockbuster trade for Mark Sanchez at #5 overall. I supported the trade-up for a potential franchise QB at the time, and quite frankly, I still do, even if it hasn’t quite panned out. The real indefensible thing with this selection was how from Day 1, the organization seemingly went out of their way to NOT develop him properly. The Jets also traded up to the first pick of Round 3 in order to draft running back Shonn Greene, who is a decent back in a platoon, but hardly a featured player. In round 6, Matt Slauson was added, which was a rare good late round pick.
  • 2010– All you really need to know is that Kyle Wilson was drafted in the first round. The same Kyle WIlson who revolutionized the cornerback position these past few years by showing you can make millions of dollars by never once turning around to track a pass in the air, giving hope to all young terrible cornerbacks out there. Following that up in round 2 was the immortal Vlad Ducasse, who despite being tried at 3 different offensive line positions, still found a way to be equally awful at them all. Rounding out this historically bad draft class was Joe McKnight in round 4 (a running back they don’t allow to play running back), and John Conner, the 1-dimensional fullback whose one dimension happened to be poor run blocking. Imagine if the Jets drafted just ONE useful player in this class. Could that have put them over the top to beat the Steelers in the playoffs? I guess we’ll never know…

With so little talent coming in over the past few years, it starts to make sense as why the team is in such dire straits, especially when you factor in all the reliable players Mike Tannenbaum let go of. Why did he let so many good players go? Because he thought he had some really excellent replacements ready to step in. Which brings me to…

2- Overrating of Own Players / Arrogance – The arrogance shown by this front office the past few years is absolutely startling. In 2010 this was one of the most talented rosters in the NFL, and the success matched it. Since then, the team has arrogantly overrated their own players to such a degree that they allowed reliable players who fit in extremely well to leave, only to replace them with guys Mike Tannenbaum brought in, almost as if to show how much smarter they are than everyone else. You want to see how you go from back-to-back AFC title games and seemingly being on the brink of greatness to… whatever the hell this is now we see every Sunday? Take a look:

At QB, we went from a promising young QB who appeared to be on the rise, to turning him into a shell-shocked, scrambled mess.

At RB, we went from Hall of Famer Ladainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene in a very effective platoon, to Greene being the bellcow with a whopping 3.7 yards a carry. Backing him up are failed draft choices Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell. Despite spending FOUR draft choices between rounds 3 and 5 between 2009 and 2011 on the backfield, we may still end up seeing a starting backfield of Kahlil Bell and Lex Hilliard soon.

At FB, we went from the excellent Tony Richardson to John Conner to Lex Hilliard. Wow.

At WR, we went from “The Flight Boys” trio of Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, and Jerricho Cotchery to seeing Jason Hill and Clyde Gates play big roles. Sanchez was developing some really nice chemistry with these players and they all contributed to the playoff success. Just as importantly, they all seemed to really like each other and were great teammates. Naturally, Tannenbaum unceremoniously dumped Edwards and Cotchery in favor of Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason (who are both out of the league), and then this year replaced them with Jeremy Kerley, Chaz Schilens, and Stephen Hill. Kerley has shown promise and Hill is just a rookie, but this has been an extreme downgrade in every aspect. Why not just let Sanchez grow with The Flight Boys?

At Offensive Line, we went from arguably the best Right Tackle in the NFL in Damien Woody to Wayne Hunter to Austin Howard. Woody was willing to return for one more season in 2011, but the team overrated Hunter to such a degree, that they felt Woody was expendable. This was quite possibly the most laughable decision of them all. And while Austin Howard is better than Hunter, I’d still prefer to see Big Wood walk off the ESPN set and throw on a Jets jersey, despite not playing for nearly two years. Beyond the right tackle disaster, no interior linemen were developed or groomed to back up or eventually replace Brandon Moore or Slauson. That’s how you end up with things like Colin Baxter blocking Haloti Ngata last year. Ugh.

At Outside Linebacker, we went from “tail end of their usefulness” – Calvin Pace, Jason Taylor, and Bryan Thomas, to “absolutely useless and washed up” Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas. Backing them up are Useless Garrett McIntyre and Ricky Sapp. Zero reinforcements were added. Why were no reinforcements added? Because…

3- Complete Lack of a Plan – As far as I can tell, there is just absolutely no plan at all with this entire organization. There obviously was none when it came to developing Mark Sanchez, because they’ve done literally everything wrong with him. I’m pretty sure that if Mike Tannenbaum had a big chart in his office with his grand plan, it would read something like this:

  1. Get Headlines
  2. Draft Terrible Players
  3. Blame Everyone Else to Woody
  4. Get More Headlines
  5. ?????
  6. Super Bowl

Rather than building a team the right way and developing their players, Mike Tannenbaum always appears to be on the lookout for the “next great thing”, and thinks there’s always something better. Well, as we’ve seen, the grass is not always greener on the other side. Rather than letting Eric Mangini build and go forward with Chad Pennington like he wanted to, Mike made the big splash to get Brett Favre for a 2nd round pick. Rather than letting Mark Sanchez grow up with Edwards and Cotchery, he dumped them both in a year where a lockout prevented the offense with new receivers from being able to gel. It’s also worth mentioning his arrogance led to signing Plaxico Burress fresh out of jail without so much as watching him work out. It’s probably a good thing they didn’t work out Burress or Mason before signing them though, because I don’t even know where the hell they’d be able to find a sun dial to time them running.

The list of reasons why Mike Tannenbaum has no plan is seemingly endless. They want to have a ground and pound team, so he loaded up with bad running backs, bad offensive linemen, and didn’t bother to get a single run-blocking tight end. They drafted a top 5 pick QB and then changed his WR’s every year and didn’t get a reliable pass-catching running back after LaDainian Tomlinson retired, even though that was a major part of Sanchez’s game. They wanted to be a defensive powerhouse, yet he didn’t draft or sign a single OLB during Rex Ryan’s tenure other than Aaron Maybin, who was recently cut. Safety was never addressed after dumping Kerry Rhodes, and Dwight Lowery was just given away. They wanted a backup to push Mark Sanchez, so they got Drew Stanton, then immediately changed course and traded for Tim Tebow. They said Tebow could play 15-20 snaps per game and he’d help the short yardage game, and then he isn’t used at all. It’s just one thing after another, after another with this team.

So, it’s come to this with the New York Jets and Mike Tannenbaum. It’s not just the fans and media anymore saying that this is a flawed roster and flawed organization. Now according to the Daily News, we even have Jets players saying the Jets players aren’t good enough. We have Jets officials saying the Jets players aren’t good enough. It’s been obvious for a while now that that has been the case and we’ve all been right. The reason the players aren’t good enough is because the General Manager isn’t good enough. The time has come. Mike must go.

Author: Mike Donnelly

Mike Donnelly is a Staff Writer and life-long Jets fan, who was previously a featured columnist at multiple other New York Jets and fantasy football websites. He lives and works in finance in the NYC area and will help lead our Jets and NFL coverage in 2013.

  • twoshady

    Amen… Halleluiah. Now go tell Woody.

  • @sportsallday

    *starts slow clap*

  • **continues slow clap**

  • goldy

    Only reason the genius of MR T knew about slauson is because he was a recruit of Our OL coach Callahan when he was the HC of nebraska. 21 picks in the last 4 years, least in the league and not one potential all pro. Besides for trading down to take Kellen Clemens i dont think T has ever traded down. He has no idea how to work a draft.

  • Bryan

    lol I’ll continue the slow cap and speed it up a little. This article was excellent – TANNENBAUM MUST GO!

  • Jay

    Let’s not forget the fact that he is not even the so called “salary cap guru” he was once thought to be. David Harris, Santonio Holmes, and Calvin Pace are 3 of the 10 worst contracts in the NFL. Couple that with Sanchez and even the Wilpons feel better about their situation. From an anonymous Jet source, Mr T is looking to sign Jason Bey as a tight end…

  • Moe

    On the mark…well done sir

  • Mike Donnelly

    Ouch, a Jason Bay and Wilpons reference haha.. just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse..

  • Big Fella

    I think it’s too easy to blame the GM, move on and think everything will fix itself. Let’s remember this team had its two best consecutive years EVER with this GM and this head coach and that was only two years ago. One 8-8 season later and now a 3 game losing streak and Tannenbaum is an idiot? I don’t agree. Did the Mara’s fire Jerry Reese after two years missing the playoffs? Have the Rooney’s done that? Steve Bischotti? The good franchises win by staying the course and fixing it, not by blowing the whole thing up and setting the franchise back.

    Your arguments don’t hold up. This guy isn’t perfect but he has too many positives that you aren’t including for this to be an accurate analysis.

  • chris boyle

    Spot on

  • Charlie

    To be honest, Mr. Tannenbaums time has been here for a while. Also when i think about it, if Chad Pennington had a TE like Dustin Keller, he would have been much better off. To me this offense is tailored to a Pennington-type QB with all the short passes

  • Anthony

    Shonn Greene was just quoted as saying we need a change. That dude needs to be cut. I will not pretend to know what goes through the head of the least talented player at his position in the league when he criticizes teammates for lack of effectiveness, but this lack of self consciousness needs to be dealt with.

  • Mark Phelan

    This is an excellent editorial! A tragic follow-up to your August open letter.

    I would like to know more about the Jets scouting staff. I would think no mortal could make as many bad mistakes without help.

  • Mike Donnelly

    Big Fella, I’m just curious what all these positives are?

    And you can’t compare Tannenbaum to a GM like Jerry Reese, because Reese won a Super Bowl in his first season as GM. Good GMs have a plan and stick with it, that’s the exact opposite of Tannenbaum.

  • David

    I must say that reading this blog, and especially this post, puts the Jets performance and specifically Tannenbaum, in perspective. So many Tannenbaum moves leave the fans scratching their heads and wondering what he’s thinking and that maybe he knows more than us. He may have more information, but his decision making is atrocious way too often. There is clearly no plan to build a team and this organization is dysfunctional yet again.

  • joeydefiant

    Tannebaum has made some mistakes but why did you start at 2008 instead of 2007? Because he drafted Revis (best corner in NFL) and David Harris (Top 20 LB (having a bad year so far but has a proven track record)). Jerry Reese has struck out some years as well just because his team won a superbowl he can’t be evaluated? You also leave out 2011 where he drafted Wilkerson, Ellis, and Kerley.

  • joeydefiant

    In 2011 Jerry Reese drafted 1. Prince Amukamara 2. Marvin Austin (who???) 3. Jerrel Jernigan (who????) 4. James Brewer (who??) 6. Greg Jones, Tyler Sash Jaquan Williams (who???) 7. Da’Rel Scott

    In 2011 Mike Tannebaum drafted 1. Mo Wilkerson 3. Kenrick Ellis 4. Bilal Powell 5. Jeremy Kerley 7. McElroy, Scotty McKnight.

    I’d say Tannebaum has done better lately.

  • Big Fella

    Mike, positives in no particular order:
    In the draft – Revis, Harris, Mangold, Keller, Ferguson, Wilkerson, Kerley, Powell

    Some of the pickups in free agency have played important roles and expendable when necessary. Edwards went to SF and then Seattle and been largely hurt (I’d say a good choice to part ways), got Holmes cheap in a trade now making #1 receiver money, Cromartie cheap in a trade, even Tebow cheap in a trade for a backup qb.

    Every team has misses — spend a little time on New England’s drafts. And as for your point about Jerry Reese. I think he is a great GM but if you are going to give him credit, you also have to take the good with the bad as well. They missed the playoffs for two consecutive years, was that all his fault too?

  • joeydefiant

    I do agree that he screwed up by breaking up “The Flight Boys”. Having Sanchez throw to different people every year is obviously a horrible idea. Tony Richardson retired, and Rex admitted John Connor was his pick. I think Tannebaum needs a good football guy as head of the scouting department. And I don’t know why they didn’t throw a lot of money at Tom Moore to make him Offensive Coordinator or QB Coach.

  • Felix

    Long long long time jets fan!!! I have not been a fan of Mr. T he is a Parcells left over and I must say the majority of jets fans have a very short memory this guy was hired by bill to help him with player contracts , by profession he is a sports lawyer specializing in contracts and as it turns out not a very goog at that !!! The hiring of Rex was a big whopper of a mistake and the drafting of Sanchez another whopper of a mistake and Brett and Tebow the list go’s on in on . Need to clean house start with a clean slate bring in real football personnal and use the draft to build a real team not this Bushleague team that we have now….


    Will someone pass this on to Woody Johnson. letting him know, how embrassing it is to be long time and to be subjected to this.


    FINALLY!!!! The perfect article for Woody Johnson to read. It’s in black and white. I have NO IDEA we even let Edwards and COtch go??? I was so upset over that. Mark was geling well with those guys. Every year is a different corpse of receivers that have gotten from mediocre to terrible year after year. The acquistion of Tim Tebow was TERRIBLE! A underserved media distraction for the ENTIRE team. I ALWAYS told te Jets fans here in Charlotte, NC that Shonn Greene is not a featured running back. He is a short yardage back. We NEED a good running back. Thomas Jones was an absolute beast on the team and the play action with Mark was awesome. That is Marks game, play action helps the team click. No huddle offense works for Marks game also.

    ps= I can’t believe Mark gets all the scrutiny and Mike T. just doesn’t feel responsible and staying out of the limelite. Bring Edwards back this offseason and get a decent running back!

    — a frustrated Jets fan in NC.